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NaNoWriMo Tip — Procrastinate!

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Tomorrow, National Novel Writing Month kicks off! During the next thirty days, participants are going to be plowing toward a goal of 50,000 words. In other words, we’ll all be doing everything we can to avoid actual writing. Right? But wait, you say! Monkey, we’re supposed to be writing, aren’t we? We have to do nearly 2000 words per day!

Oh yes, little writers, we’ll all be shooting for that goal. But after three years of NaNo, I’ve learned that during November, the urge to clean out that closet… or hey, all the closets, grows very strong. Suddenly all the little things you’ve been putting off become very important. November is the best time to dig out that bush you hate, isn’t it?

Welcome to a month of procrastination, NaNoWriMos. But don’t be afraid — sometimes, putting off your writing for a little while is just what you need to keep that story going. Every writer is familiar with the terror of writer’s block — those panicky moments when you know that you have something good, that it’s so close, and if you could just find the right word, your masterpiece would be complete and pure golden sentences would flow from your fingers. In those moments, it’s not always best to sit in front of your computer, or your journal, and chew off your thumbnail. Remember the story of Archimedes and his theory of buoyancy? He took a bath to think over the problem… and voila! A major mathematical principle was discovered.

It’s important to know when to procrastinate, however. If you’re near your daily goal but in the middle of a scene that is going well, don’t stop! Save alphabetizing the spice rack for that moment when you absolutely cannot continue. Sometimes, everyone hits a wall or encounters a plot snarl that simple will not come untied. When that happens, get up. Take a walk. Wash the dog. Make yourself a treat. And think about your story. Where are you going? What is your planned outcome, if you have one?

Or even think of ridiculous things. What if aliens suddenly appeared in the middle of your romance novel? If it makes you laugh, even the silliest suggestions can help — because they relieve tension. Working on your NaNo novel isn’t a life or death situation, after all… feel free to have a little fun with it. After all, if you’re not having a good time while pulling out all your hair and kicking the CPU, what’s the point of doing NaNo?

And if all else fails… take a bath. Rather, put a character in the bath. Maybe they will have an epiphany that will keep your story rolling right along.

The LegendaryMonkey is also Alisha Karabinus, a blogger and writer from Little Rock, Arkansas. Find out more at Sudden Nothing.

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  • http://www.templestark.com/blog Temple A. Stark

    I’m in a situation where I may be proscrastinating everythng else so I can write the NaMo.

    At the very least I will enjoy it.

    I have two unrelated plot ideas for mine. My job will be to bring them together.

  • http://selfaudit.blogspot.com Aaman

    Did you mean cleaning out metaphorical closets?

    I’m reminded of a line from a film I saw recently that had a closet gay who’s getting married – and the lead character rebuffs his advances with the lines

    “You’re a closet gay, a closet drunk, everytime I open a closet I see you hanging there”

  • http://www.suddennothing.net LegendaryMonkey

    Haha, Aaman… that’s a great line! But no, I meant real closets. Like the one in every house that’s just filled with crap. I save mine for November.

  • http://www.livejournal.com/users/cmpwrite/ Connie Phillips

    I did NaNo last year for the first time, and plan on giving it another try this year. For me, anyway, I find having the set goals and the deadline make me more determined to meet them, both the daily and the long term.

    Connie

  • http://www.suddennothing.net LegendaryMonkey

    The deadline aspect is the best part of NaNo… I think it’s why it’s so successful.

  • http://w6daily.winn.com/ Phillip Winn

    I found out about NaNoWriMo on November 8, 2002, and still managed to write a 50,000-word novel (okay, novella) that month.

    If I could do it in 23 days, you can do it in 30!

    I took two years off, but despite my better judgment, I’m going to try it again this year, so I’ve got three hours before the timers starts ticking.

  • http://www.templestark.com Temple Stark

    I’m 1,055 words in so far on Day 1.

    Hooray. About that more to go for the rest of the day – to go with the 1,500 or so words I get to write for the newspaper(s).